Blog Entries: 1 to 10 of 13
WAGS was lucky to have Gena Philibert-Ortega give two insightful presentations at our February meeting. In the morning, we learned about underutilized websites to locate our ancestors. https://www.worldcat.org
is the world's largest network of library content and services. It allows you to:
- Search many libraries at once for an item and then locate it in a library nearby
- Find books, music, and videos to check out
- Find research articles and digital items (like audiobooks) that can be directly viewed or downloaded
- Link to "Ask a Librarian" and other services at your library
Since this is library based, searching should be done by the Library of Congress Subject Headings. So do not search your ancestor’s name, but search by county of residence, religion, university, military unit, or burial place.
ArchiveGrid - https://researchworks.oclc.org/archivegrid/
includes over 5 million records describing archival materials, bringing together information about historical documents, personal papers, family histories, and more. With over 1,000 different archival institutions represented, ArchiveGrid helps researchers looking for primary source materials held in archives, libraries, museums and historical societies. Remember to search this site by your ancestor’s locality, since items could be donated to any repository in the world.
- Digital Public Library of America offers the opportunity to dig deeper and add context to the lives of our ancestors. All of the materials found through DPLA—photographs, books, maps, news footage, oral histories, personal letters, museum objects, artwork, government documents, and so much more—are free and immediately available in digital format.
We spent the afternoon with Gena encouraging us to think outside the box to find our female ancestors. Think about her life as a member of her community. Who were part of her FAN club, Friends, Associates and Neighbors? Did she belong to a church group, a fraternal organization, or have a unique occupation? Scour the local newspapers https://chroniclingamerica.log.gov/
for articles about these activities.
Keep a list of every name variation that could be used for her single and married names such as Mrs. Mary D. Jones, Mrs. Jones, Mrs. John Jones, Mary Doris Green, etc... . Plus keep track of how a name is often misspelled in an OCR result. When I search for my “Sneath” ancestors, I get “Smith” results.
Lastly, we of course must use the www.familysearch.org
catalog. Did you have an Irish female ancestor? If you do a Keyword search for “Irish Women”, there are 121 results. Or how about “Midwives”, you get 71 results. Was she a member of the “Church of God”, a keyword search results in 399 items. Plus, you are now able to narrow a search with two filters such as Keyword and Place.
At our first meeting of 2019 we welcomed Mary Anne Vincent who spoke about genealogical resources associated with service in the United States military conflicts from 1776 to 1946. She said that the Revolutionary War had three groups of people: Patriots, Loyalists, and Others. About 250,000 people serviced as Patriots. So if your ancestor did not fight as a Patriot, but as a Loyalist, then try searching http://www.royalprovincial.com/
. Or, perhaps your ancestor was an “Other”. This could mean they were a pacifist due to their religious beliefs, such as being a Quaker, Amish, a Mennonite, Church of the Brethren or a Seventh Day Adventists. Keep this is mind when searching church records. Could your ancestor have been a conscientious objector? They could still have served as medics, so they may have military service records and pension files.
Just this week the website https://www.fold3.com/
announced they have scanned the War of 1812 Pension Files for the surnames letters A – P. They are free to view! Have you heard of the “San Patricious”? These were Irish Catholic immigrants who fought for Mexico in 1846-1848 United States – Mexican War.
Make sure you review the 1930 US Census to see if your ancestor checked the box as a Veteran of a US Military Expedition. The form lists "WW" for World War I, "Sp" for the Spanish-American War, "Civ" for the Civil War, "Phil" for the Philippine insurrection, "Box" for the Boxer rebellion, or "Mex" for the Mexican expedition. If you are trying to get the younger generation to learn about family military service, use https://www.youtube.com
. There are thousands of videos about all these conflicts. Especially fun are music clips and historical information for “Yankee Doodle”, “Over There” and “Battle Hymn of the Republic”.
At the morning class, I was pleased to present an underutilized topic--- Inventor Patents and Copyrights. The United States Constitution addresses the need to promote Science and the Arts and protect the inventors. There have been 10 million patents issued since 1790 to men and women. Many of these are for agricultural implements used on the homestead. Each application has a diagram of the invention.
These documents can provide genealogical details of your inventor ancestor’s citizenship status, maiden names of women, legal name changes, residences, employers, friends, neighbors, associates, death dates, and heirs.
- www.Ancestry.com U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Patents, 1790-1909
- https://www.google.com/advanced_patent_search 1790 - Present
- http://patft.uspto.gov/netahtml/PTO/search-adv.htm 1790 – Present
- www.HathiTrust.org Key work to search “Patent”
The NARA.gov office in Kansas has the complete case files of the patent application correspondence. Email email@example.com
to get a price quote.
Other nations, like Canada, Great Britain and France have databases for their citizens. Even the Confederacy and The Republic of Texas had a Patent department. Newspapers printed articles about patents issued for local citizens to give you a hint to search a database.
If your ancestor wrote a book, song, or pamphlet, the United States Copyright office has a card catalog with 45 million records to search in person or by making a request by mail. Visit www.Copyright.gov
for more details.
I hope everyone enjoyed WAGS 36th Annual Seminar with John Philip Colletta. We were lucky to have him share his knowledge and experience in genealogical research of our families.
WAGS had our annual Show & Tell at our December meeting. Members enjoyed delicious desserts and heard interesting stories. I hope everyone was inspired and will share a story next time. We had four WAGS members give wonderful presentations.
Rick Frohling told us “How to Get Away with Murder”. On a collateral line, Rick learned mostly through newspaper research about a chiropractor in 1936 named Dr. Richard McDermott. He used the websites www.newspapers.com
. Interestingly, Rick learned the name was often spelled M’Dermott in the papers. Dr. Richard and Mrs. Thelma McDermott were a not a happy couple. They filed for divorce soon after their marriage. However, before the divorce was final, Thelma met Harold Allen, a “husky young dairy worker” at a hotel. Richard followed her there and an altercation with a gun and knife occurred. Thelma was fatally shot by her husband and there was great confusion if this was an accident or on purpose. The conflicting statements and evidence was enough to convince the jury to acquit Mr. McDermott of the murder charge.
I was delighted to tell the story of the courtship, in 1947, of my parents Bill Johns and Wanda Cline. They met at a “Horse & Buggy” dance in April and were married in October. I learned about their engagement, her bridal showers and wedding details in the Torrance newspaper database on https://www.library.torranceca.gov/resources/historic-newspaper-drictories
. I loved that in preparation for this presentation, I learned that my Mom spent her unemployment check of $17.00 to buy the material for her wedding dress and that my parent’s first date was for tacos, her very first time to have Mexican food.
Marisa Reyes shared the details of a cook book of family and friend’s recipes created in 2012 by her brother Dr. E. Michael Reyes titled “Doctor’s Orders”. He collected the delicious recipes that had never been written down by elderly Mexican relations. Also the various recipes include Mai-Tai’s created by the Singrey family, recipes of their late mother Joyce Reyes, which Marisa still makes today, and just for fun some B-List celebrity recipes. Her brother has shared this book with family and friends. Become inspired and take the time over the holidays to collect those family recipes in writing.
Lastly, Bonnie Morris showed us an old “Universal Brand” Carpet Sweeper. She remembers her mother letting her ride on it as a child as her mother cleaned house. She then told us about “The Harold Wall Family”. Her son saw a family photo and asked her about one of the people in the photo who he had never heard about before. So Bonnie used her genealogy skills to learn about Harold, his parents, Albert and Nellie, and his wife Ethel, plus all the descendants to the present. The lived in Iowa and then migrated to California.
WAGS need our members to step up and help our Hospitality Chair with lunches at our meetings. If you would like to work behind the scenes to prepare food, set up, serve or clean-up, contact Miriam Benell by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
or call (562) 324-9316. WAGS would like to continue this benefit of offering lunch for just $ 5.00 per person, but we need assistance.
WAGS has had a wonderful 2018 filled with interesting and informative presentations by local genealogy speakers. Would you like to take another field trip in 2019? Is there a topic you want to hear about? Make a suggestion at a meeting, by phone, by email or on our FACEBOOK page https://www.facebook.com/groups/WAGSWhittier/
In November, WAGS morning class featured Seminar Director Rick Frohling demonstrating the software “Personal Historian” version 3. A basic version can be downloaded for free or you can get an upgraded version for just $ 29.95 at https://www.rootsmagic.com/Personal-Historian/
. Personal Historian is unique software that helps you write the story of your life and of other individuals. Overwhelmed with the thought of writing a personal history? It breaks this seemingly monumental task into small, manageable pieces and then reconstructs it into a complete, publishable document.
Rick shared his short story of his first car which his father bought for him without his knowledge. It cost him more than he wanted to spend and was not a desirable model to have in the Midwest. The software helps you import memory triggers and historical timelines to jumpstart your writing. Think about writing about your favorite high school teacher who inspired you, playing sports at summer camp, your favorite family road trip or how the 1987 Whittier Narrows earthquake affected you and your family.
WAGS afternoon speaker was Megan Lee who taught us about DNA Autosomal testing. She explained that there are now 5 testing companies that provide ethnicity results and matches with other people who have taken the tests. These results will list the total % of shared DNA, total shared centimorgans, total number of shared segments and longest segments. They are:
- https://www.myheritage.com/ (accepts transfers)
- https://www.familytreedna.com/ (accepts transfers)
After you take a test, think about downloading your raw DNA data results and transferring them to the other sites. This will broaden your reach to more relatives. Also, take that raw data and upload it to the free site https://www.gedmatch.com
to expand matches even more. Megan suggested purchasing Blaine Bettinger’s book The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy
as an essential guide to understanding DNA test results. For even more charts and templates, visit https://isogg.org/wiki/Wiki_Welcome_Page
, its mission is to advocate for, and educate about, the use of genetics as a tool for genealogical research, and to promote a supportive network for genetic genealogists.
Are you doing your holiday shopping on Amazon? If so, please use https://smile.amazon.com
. This feature of Amazon donates a portion of the purchase price to a charity. When you select Whittier Area Genealogical Society as your charity of choice, WAGS will receive a donation of 0.5% of the price of your eligible Amazon purchases.
I want to wish all WAGS members a Happy Holiday season. If you have been good this year think about asking Santa Claus for a WAGS 2019 Seminar registration for a Christmas gift.
WAGS had the pleasure to welcome for the first time, Bill Cole M.A., a passionate genealogist who has vigorously pursued his family history since 1980. He delighted our members with his basic elements of a good family history story. His grandfather, with whom he shared a birthday, provided the impetus for his love of story. He suggests recording conversations with older relative now, don’t delay.
We need to learn to expand the rich elements of our ancestor’s lives with historical detail. This will generate an interesting story to engage your readers. Find and study county histories; thousands were published in 1876 as part of United States Centennial celebrations. A good source is https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/United_States_History
. Learn about why your ancestor settled in a particular place such as a booming textile industry, working the mineral mines, the opportunity to obtain land, or a new railroad stop providing income as a town merchant. Think about subscribing to https://historylines.com/
to import a GEDCOM and obtain a time line of historical events of every ancestor on your tree.
Since we live in California, we don’t often get to visit our ancestor’s residences in other US States or countries. To get a visual on the scenery of where they lived, download for free https://www.google.com/earth/
and type in an address. It was so fascinating to walk the streets of the tiny town of Waterford, Erie, PA, current population 1,517, where on January 27th
, 1850 my ancestors Samuel B. Owen and Priscilla Lunger were married. I looked up the weather for that day in the Erie County newspaper where it was reported to be “very cold and disagreeable”. These are interesting details to add texture to your story.
In the afternoon, we also welcomed for the first time Diane Henriks. She gave WAGS members details on publishing your family history once you have written it. You need to first choose a subject or a focus such as family recipes, rags to riches stories, memoirs, or immigration tales to America.
She suggested the website https://www.lulu.com/
as the easiest, most user friendly, and one with a variety of pricing options. Keep in mind a budget since you want many family members to purchase your printed book. Even consider giving it as a gift to relatives. Color and hard back will cost more that black and white and soft cover. Creating an e-book is a good choice for younger relations who relish the digital version.
Consider placing the table of contents or index in the front of the book for easier searching. Also consider placing the page number of any details of the ancestor’s lives under any pictures. Remember to have lots of white space to make your words and pictures stand out.
She reminded us of legal guidelines such as professional photographs are copyrighted for 75 years. To use those you would need written consent of the photographer. Most magazines and newspapers are not copyrighted as a whole but Federal Government documents are copyright protected. Do you have your grandmother’s diary? If you want to publish it in your family history book, note that it is copyrighted through the life of the author plus 50 years. Perhaps think about donating the book to a local library or genealogical society.
WAGS welcomed back Sara Cochran, “The Skeleton Whisperer”, to our September meeting.
She spent the morning session encouraging genealogists to expand their research to State and National Archives. We must realize that most records are not online and some may never be put online. Research at archives should not be done by just surname, but by location, occupation, religion, school, college, military regiment or even nickname.
This website https://www.statearchivists.org/connect/resources-state/
lists the websites for all fifty states. I looked at Ohio’s online catalog at https://www.ohiohistory.org/learn/archives-library/state-archives
. For Trumbull County, there are 92 items. One item of interest is the “School enumeration and account records: 1831-1913”. The Georgia State Archives at https://www.georgiaarchives.org/
has online the “Original Colonial and Headright Plat Indices”, that were compiled between 1856 and 1859. At the Washington State Archives https://www.sos.wa.gov/archives/
for your black sheep ancestors, there are “Inmate files, admissions and Commitment Registers, and Mug shots for the Washington State Penitentiary and Reformatory from 1877-1961”. The Territorial District Court cases include abstracts of more than 37,000 cases in civil, criminal, and probate. An index includes the names of all plaintiffs and defendants.
Have you used Inter-Library loan to borrow newspapers for small towns? The Nebraska archives website https://history.nebraska.gov/
lists over 3,500 individual newspaper titles from 1854 to the present. In Idaho, the archives https://history.idaho.gov/
has digitized 200,000 images and submitted them to https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov
for 39 newspaper titles. Plus, remember to search for “Mrs. John Smith” or “Mrs. J. Smith” for women, in addition to their first names.
At our afternoon session, Sara spoke about the loss of the 1890 US Federal Census and available substitutes to fill in the gap. Search only for the states of Kentucky to Wyoming on the 1890 Veterans Schedules at https://www.familysearch.org/search/collection/1877095
. Each schedule calls for the following information:
Name of the veteran (or if he did not survive, the names of both the widow and her deceased husband); the veteran's rank, company, regiment or vessel, date of enlistment, date of discharge, and length of service in years, months, and days; post office and address of each person listed; disability incurred by the veteran; and remarks necessary to a complete statement of his term of service.
She also suggested searching: State censuses (often taken in years ending in 5), Newspapers, Tax records, City Directories, Estate Records, School Censuses, County Histories, and Cemetery Records.
I want to express my thanks to WAGS member Paul Moore for serving as Webmaster from 2016-2018. He stepped up to assist in the creation of the new and improved WAGS website. Rick Frohling will now serve as Webmaster along with Terry Berg and Marilyn McCarty.
WAGS welcomed for the first time, Gary Fredericksen, the President of the Sun City Genealogy Club, who spoke about the best methods to identify old photos. He was given a thumb drive with 200 family photos from a cousin. One was of special interest, since it had a family gathering of over 50 people and so far he has identified over 30 of those pictured.
Gary suggested if you have other identified photos, use them as a reference point. Also, maintain the order that the photos are presented in a book or album to perhaps gain a chronological order. Don’t separate the photos and loose those clues.
If you can, scan the photo and save a copy to your hard drive. Using this copy as a template, divide the photo in quarters. This way you can look closely to inspect for clues of those pictured like their hair styles, moustache and beard styles, clothing, hats, post marks, background signs and images, and photography studio symbols.
I have a photo of my ancestor Maud Boyce taken at H. Wade & Son in Franklinville, NY. So I need to use a city directory to find the years that the studio was in business. This could help you narrow down the year that the photo was taken. To locate a city directories try using https://sites.google.com/site/onlinedirectorysite/
. Did your ancestor own a photography studio? Perhaps, you can find an advertisement for their business. Do you have a photo taken in Urbana, Illinois? There were seven studios in the 1900 directory. In El Paso, Texas in 1917 there were over twenty studios.
You also can narrow down the year the photo was taken but deducing the type of photo you have. For example, in approximate periods:
- Daguerreotype: 1839-1860 (a mirror at many angles)
- Ambrotype: 1855-1865 (does not tarnish/ on a glass plate)
- Tintype: 1855-1875 (magnetic)
- Carte de Visite 1860-1890 (thin sheet of paper, glued to card stock)
- Cabinet Card 1870-1890 (size likely 6 ½ x 4 ¼ )
The September 15th meeting WAGS is back to a Morning class, Lunch and an Afternoon speaker.
WAGS July Show & Tell meeting was filled with family stories and ice cream sundaes. Show & Tell had five WAGS members present a wonderful variety of tales of their research and heirlooms.
We started with Rick Frohling sharing a fun genealogy cartoon at http://geneapalooza.blogspot.com/
to get a laugh about our obsession with finding another generation back in time. We then learned about finding Rick’s Murphy line. He thought his ancestors were Irish and immigrated during the potato famine based on family lore. In 2002, he took a road trip with Uncle Jim Murphy to Illinois to investigate this brick wall line. He broke it down when he learned these Murphy relatives were Scottish and immigrated after the potato famine, which is much easier to find than Irish Murphy ancestors. If you want to learn more about surnames, try https://www.mynamestats.com/
. Two grave stones photos and vital records of Scotland helped him find the town in Scotland where they lived. He located interesting and informative obituaries in Iowa newspapers on https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/
Darlene Campbell reminded all of us to reach out to family members, NOW. Don’t wait until it is too late, as she learned with the recent loss of four first cousins. The internet provides us with a wonderful resource to locate and stay in touch with family members of all ages. So perhaps think about researching forward in time and find living descendants of cousins. You never know what stories, photos, information or experiences they have to share. Perhaps the “Black Sheep” of the family wants to reconnect with relatives. Take the time to make phone calls, write letters, send emails or even create a cousin only www.Facebook.com
Kristina Newcomer and Donna Morton displayed miniature sewing machines. The “Little Comfort”, version made by Smith and Egge was made of cast iron and still works. They originally sold for $ 2.00 and now are valued for $ 850 - $1000. Kristina used it to sew clothes for her dolls as a child. Donna presented a Casige sewing machine that had a carrying case and accessories. They produced these for over 70 years. If you want to learn more about these cute turn of the century items check out http://www.sewalot.com/sewalot_index.htm
We learned about http://www.blurb.com/
from Roger Mount. He has published memories that he began way back in 1994. He and his wife then attended the WAGS writer’s group and that inspired him to get his stories on paper to share with his family. The class used the topic of “Turning points of life” as a basis for stories. He utilized this self-publishing website to create a 72 page 6 x 9 hard back book on acid free glossy paper. This title of the book is “My life, it’s not just about me, it’s also about you”. You can also create an e-book to share with your younger family members. If you need help getting started attend the WAGS Life Story Writing Group. Meetings are held every 2nd & 4th Wednesday of the month at the Uptown Whittier Senior Center on Walnut from 1:00 – 3:00 pm.
Have you wanted to join a lineage society? In 2016, I completed the verifiable documentation to join the https://www.hollanddames.org/
. To join, a woman must be lineally descended from a person, male or female, who was born, prior to the Treaty of Westminster, 1674, either in the Netherlands or in New Netherland of Dutch parentage. I shared the documents of my 14 page 11 generation application that took me 6 months of intensive research to complete. I would be happy to assist any WAGS member in completing the documentation to join a society!
WAGS took our June General meeting on the road. Over 25 members visited the Los Angeles Central Public Library’s Genealogy collection. The Genealogy Reference librarian Julie Hoffman gave us ideas and a tour of the resources that we could only use while physically at the library. We spent over six hours perusing the stacks for family and county histories, using the library computers to search for free www.Ancestry.com
and using the Periodical Source Index (PERSI) for unique articles on www.FindMyPast.com
Many members took the time to obtain a library card so we can use at home the Access Newspaper Archives, City and Street Directories, Genealogy and Local History Index, Sanborn Maps (1867-1970), and Historical Archives of the Los Angeles Times; New York Times, and San Francisco Chronicle.
Barbara Giles and her sister found a county history of their home town. Have you reviewed “MUG” books? The information found in genealogies, county, town and church histories varies greatly in accuracy and depth. Always be careful about accepting anything and everything in these books as 100 percent accurate. A lot of the town and county histories were produced for the American centennial (1876) or for the bicentennial (1976) celebrations. You could submit articles with a payment to be put in these books. So, often it is the affluent people of the time and location who appear in the books. And therefore, only the goodness of the subjects is credited, and some exemplary qualities are often very over the top.
Donna Morton spent time looking for her brick wall ancestor, Henry. He is now thought to be British not German. Has this happened to you, where a family story states one thing but research leads you to a different area? This is where PERSI can be a unique resource. The one of a kind articles in local genealogy and historical society newsletters are an underutilized resource. The website www.FindMyPast.com
has exclusive rights to PERSI. Plus many of these PERSI articles can be viewed for free at the Los Angeles Central Public Library.
Jan Berry said she had success in getting negative results in her research, so now she knows where not to continue her search. This can be a good thing. A good method to narrow down search areas is in the newspapers; these are the social media of the day. By having the Los Angeles Public Library card at www.lapl.org
, it can provide a wealth of online newspapers resources. Newspaper Archives has over 2.2 billion pages, from the 1600’s to 2018.
Roger Mount reviewed the Sanborn Maps. Founded in 1867 by D. A. Sanborn, the Sanborn Map Company was the primary American publisher of fire insurance maps for nearly 100 years. These maps include information such as the outline of each building, the size, shape and construction materials, heights, and function of structures, location of windows and doors. The maps also give street names, street and sidewalk widths, property boundaries, building use, and house and block numbers. Did you ancestor own a business, hotel, garage, stable, warehouse or factory? Think about using these maps to learn more about their work lives.
I hope everyone who joined the field trip had an interesting and fun time at the library. If you did, please let Roger Mount know so we can think about making a library visit a yearly event.
At our May meeting, WAGS was delighted to welcome back Joel Weintraub. He gave a very informative and persuasive talk about “Ellis Island: What Really Happened”. He presented many thoughts on why the legend of “My ancestor’s name was changed at Ellis Island “is incorrect. We learned about how the passenger lists we search on the website https://www.libertyellisfoundation.org
were created in the country of origin, not at Ellis Island. The captains of these ships were fined and had to pay for return passage of immigrants for incorrect or fraudulent passenger lists.
The inspectors, who spoke at least three languages, processed up to 400 to 500 immigrants per day. A famous inspector was Fiorello LaGuardia, a U.S. congressman and three-term mayor of New York City. LaGuardia was the son of an Italian father and a Jewish mother from Austria-Hungary, and spoke Italian, German, Yiddish and Croatian.
Our afternoon session, we learned about how to prepare to search the 1950 US Federal Census. This Census will ask fewer questions than the 1940 census and the full population was asked only 20 questions. As in 1940, a 5 percent sample was asked an additional slate of questions. Just like the 1940 Census release on April 1st, 2012, there will not be a name index upon initial release. So there will likely be a crowd sourced name index created by many diligent genealogists.
This name index could take time, so Joel and his partner Steve Morse have already created tools to help us find our ancestors in this census. Their website, www.SteveMorse.org
has an easy to use “Unified 1880-1950 Census Enumeration District Finder.” It gives step by step instructions to locate the ED, so on April 1st
, 2022 when the Census is released online by www.NARA.gov
you will be able to narrow down the 1950 Census pages.
So start now to locate where everyone was living on April 1st
, 1950. Scour Naturalization Records, Employment records, Obituaries, Voting Registers, and old letters for addresses. Phone Books and City Directories are great resource, https://sites.google.com/site/onlinedirectorysite/Home/usa
. I was able to locate my parent’s home in Torrance in ED as 19-925.
WAGS will have field trip to the Los Angeles Public Library 630 W. 5th Street with parking at 524 South Flower Street on June 16th
2018. Julie Huffman, the Librarian in the History & Genealogy Department will provide a tour of their resources at 11:00 AM. The library is open until 5:30 PM and make sure to get a free Library card and validate your parking. Prepare in advance by searching their catalog https://catalog.lapl.org/carlweb/jsp/search_page.jsp
by Surname, County or State. Pay special attention to items titled “Periodicals”; these are often genealogical society newsletters that contain unique and unusual resources. They will likely need to be pulled from the closed stacks, so have those call numbers ready.